Censoring History – From Robert E. Lee to LBJ and MLK

Sons of Confederate Veterans

Historians and Families Forever Battle Over Molding Marble Legacies


by  Jim W. Dean, VT editor…featuring Gregg Clemmer


Sons of Confederate Veterans

Confederate descendants have long dealt with the misperception that their main goal motivation for honoring their ancestors is to create a facade to hide their guilt behind.

Guilt tripping is a tried and true manipulation tactic, and one not practiced by nice people, but of the ruder more devious element. Their motivation is generally a political hustle.

Gregg Clemmer’s article below features three examples of a more personal nature, the struggle between families and historians, Lee, LBJ and MJk. To reveal, or not to reveal…that is the devil they deal with, not the smearmiesters that torment Confederates.

Our charge, the SCV,  is to protect the good name of the Confederate soldier, honored in literally all the military academies of the world.  And we do that by revealing to our American family what many relatives prefer that we not, the information that has generally been withheld because it conflicts with the propaganda story. If we have learned anything since 911, this should surprise no one.

Yet Confederates face Civil War propagandists similar to those that would claim the 911 commission report is the true story on the event and all those who disagree are just America haters. The War Between the States has a many parallels with 911…the staging, the attack, and post event. And if there is any group of readers that can grasp this, it is VT’s. I will be stepping through this in future articles.

I picked Gregg Clemmer’s article for today’s Sesquicentennial series piece because it was a great example of the universal struggle by competing forces to mold history to their vision of the truth, or the one they prefer. The concept of reconciliation is often a major casualty here.

The Centennial Civil War celebration, to use that word, was an intended celebration of reconciliation by national leaders. But various and competing political and social agendas turned the event into a minefield of sorts. Confederate bashing had not come into vogue yet during the Centennial. Back then…

Many black folks were Lincoln Republicans. And southern Democrats so loved to vote that even the dead showed up on election day. South bashing was not considered a political benefit by either party at the time.

What today’s South bashers miscalculated was family pride in the South. I do not say that all have it. Martin Luther King’s children are examples of ‘pride impaired’ legacies, and they do not walk alone.

To Honor or Dishonor - Who Decides?

To malign a person’s family is still a major insult in the South, and those who do it are not considered enlightened superiors, but quite the contrary. In fact, you can get killed doing this in some parts down here where it is considered a form of suicide.

The word Yankee, the derogatory version of it used in the South, is not really a smear word, but simply a descriptive one of such a person. It is a term that is earned by the recipients through their behavior. Being from ‘up North’ is another planet compared a with ‘Yankee’.

American, Confederate and family pride are all closely entwined. Countries, peoples and families all have their crown jewels and family secrets. Guests are not entertained in the basement but the living room. And it is remains impolite to ask if someone still uses an outhouse.

When American tourists visit European historic battlefields they do not find slavery exhibits or fake gas chambers.

In Rome there are no marches for slavery reparations or sit in fundraisers at the Coliseum. Liberal Italians don’t demand their tourist business be closed down for glorifying Roman slavery. That political guilt trip is an American creation.

When Americans visit the Tower of London and tour all the room displays and instruments of torture, they are not handed leaflets on the street on support for victim reparations.

When I lived in Barbados where citizens were 96% black, the concept of reparations was beyond the pale.

Why the repetitive mentions of slavery you ask? It is because we already know that some are planning to carjack the 150th to run their slavery guilt trip machine for five years in the Sesqui storefront window. By the way, I fully support freeing all the remaining slaves here.

King Kamehameha Drives Enemy Warriors off Cliffs
Native Hawaiians do not hold a day of remembrance for their years of genocidingtheir neighbors, dispatched by the ancestors of the current natives.

American Indians do not mourn their recorded history of slaughtering their neighbors, enslaving the children (if they were lucky) or torturing them to death using methods which could not even be put into print at the time.

It is my wish, and maybe a naive one, that maybe the Sesquicentennial can be put to good use putting the guilt tripping implements of torture away. Such things do not bring us together, but just the opposite, which makes one wonder.

I caught an Al Jazeera TV show recently about the Congo being the rape capitol of the world now, with the number 50,000 annually thrown out. It has been getting steady coverage even though nobody has a clue as to a solution.

But the black on white rape epidemic here in American, about 35,000 a year and holding steady, the media will not cover. It seems they don’t like the image that would represent, that maybe there is something wrong here in paradise, like it’s possibly being the interracial rape capitol of the world. Once again, they are dismissive.

We all face life changing threats on the near horizon and we might be better served keeping our eye on the livelihood ball. But someone else, or some other group, might prefer something else…a distraction. Do they desire reconciliation, or division? Which empowers them more and which does not? I will leave it to you to guess why. And if you do…you will understand why I wrote this today.

You can catch all the past Sesquicentennial articles here. Just look for the Sesqui logo.

Jim W. Dean,  VT editor   &   Heritage TV,  Atlanta


The Lee family archive: When does privacy trump scholarly access?

by  Gregg Clemmer

General Robert E. Lee in Classic Photo
A recent a article on the reticence/refusal of descendants of Alexandria’s General R. E. Lee to release all of their famous ancestor’s family papers, including intimate correspondence between him and his wife – is hardly unique.

Quoting a Lee letter from precisely 150 years ago, author Glenn W. Lafantasie demonstrates how the general’s youngest son edited mundane family matters from the July 31, 1861 letter for the sake of martial clarity when he published his book, Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee in 1904. [Jim Dean note: Click for free pdf download from New York Public Library and courtesy of a Microsoft grant…got mine last night.]

But Lafantasie goes on to cite other members of the Lee family in more recent years with over protection sometimes bordering on rudeness, zealously holding back private, unseen and certainly unpublished family papers.

This was done at the expense of historical accuracy, relevance, and especially scholarly insight into this most iconic of American historical figures. Whether you buy into this kind of criticism or not, we continue to see family “interference” in famous relatives’ records and legacies to this very day.

A typical example in recent years is the experience of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Caro while researching volume one of his planned four volume biography of Lyndon Johnson in which, in stunning scholarship, he proves that LBJ stole the 1948 Texas senatorial election. (Three volumes are currently in print.) According to Caro:

Robert Caro - Pulitzer Prize

Lady Bird Johnson prepared carefully for our nine interviews, reading her diaries for the years involved, so that she could provide a month by month, detailed description of the Johnsons’ life….The interviews were less valuable in regard to her husband’s political life. …Once, when I asked if she had been present at various political strategy sessions, she replied, ‘Well, I didn’t always want to be a part of everything, because I was never… I elected to be out a lot. I wasn’t confident in that field. I didn’t want to be a party to absolutely everything.’

Although from the first I made it clear to Mrs. Johnson that I would conduct my own independent research into anything I was told by anyone, for some time she very helpfully advised members of the semi-official ‘Johnson Circle’ in Texas that she would have no objection if they talked with me. At a certain point, however—sometime after the interviews with Mrs. Johnson had been completed—that cooperation abruptly and totally ceased.[1]

More egregious are the recent circumstances surrounding the release of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers for public and scholarly examination at the Robert W. Woodruff Library in Atlanta.

Martin and Coretta King - Early Days

For decades King’s widow, Coretta Scott King refused access to her late husband’s papers, notes, sermons, etc.

As with Lee, the rumor mill speculated on a world of reasons, in this case everything from residual grief, respect, and family privacy … to MLK’s financial records, government investigations, and allegations of infidelity.

But with the King family, it ultimately came down to money. Upon the death of Coretta Scott King in January 2006, her children–ignoring the opportunity to gift the papers to Morehouse College, their father’s alma mater—decided to auction everything at Sotheby’s.

Only a frantic Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and former Mayor Andrew Young’s last-minute appeals and fund-raiser prevented this academic disaster.

“I mean, there is no way to know where the papers would have ended up,” Franklin said. “They could have been in a private collection, not available for public view…We raised $32 million in a little less than two weeks.”[2]

As a result, Sotheby’s, in an unusual move, withdrew the collection from auction to facilitate the sale.

Selling & Fighting over the Family Heritage

Since that time, the King children continue to chase dollars, suing Harry Bellafonte in late 2008 for trying to auction at Sotheby’s other King documents–including MLK’s first draft of his opposition to the Vietnam war–the singer insisted were personally given to him by MLK.[3]

The children also continue to bicker amongst themselves in court over the division of the spoils.[4]

In the “latest chapter,” Martin Luther King III has come forward to state that his interest in buying the New York Mets is “overstated.”[5]

Gregg Clemmer lives in Maryland but as a native Virginian possesses an interest in the American Civil War that hearkens back to the Civil War Centennial. He numbers two Union generals and 14 “lesser ranked” Confederates in his ancestry. Gregg has a MA in Military History and is the author of five books including the acclaimed “Valor in Gray.” His biography, “Old Alleghany,” won the Douglas Southall Freeman Book Prize for 2005. Contact Gregg at yorkst@aol.com.


1] Caro, Robert, “A Note on Sources,” in The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1982), 778.

[2] http://www.hnn.us/node/27382

[3] http://www.bostonherald.com/news/national/northeast/view.bg?articleid=1138184&srvc=rss

[4] http://current.com/community/89410043_family-feud-mlk-children-in-court-over-papers.htm

Marie Osmond brings Christmas spirit to Paramount Theatre

The Beacon News – Aurora (IL) December 7, 2006 | By Randall G. Mielke Marie Osmond As a member of The Osmonds, a close-knit, show business family, Marie Osmond knows how important it is to keep in touch with relatives and friends during the holidays. “The holiday season is all about friends and family and a time to rekindle relationships,” said Marie Osmond, who brings her show, The Magic of Christmas, to the Paramount Theatre on Dec. 8. “It is a time to be thankful for what we have; to celebrate the heart and joy of the season. And there is no better way to show that than to have music.” Rekindling relationships, or at least bringing back fond memories of numerous TV appearances, is part of Osmond’s holiday show. see here marie osmond wedding

“For this show we did not spend the money on the lasers and a light show,” Osmond said. “We put the money into film editing. A picture is worth a million words.” Osmond said The Magic of Christmas will feature film clips from the Donny and Marie show (a TV variety show starring Marie and her brother, Donny, which aired in the late 1970s), the Osmond Family Christmas shows, the Bob Hope Christmas specials and the Perry Como Christmas shows.

But the holiday show will also be about music. Osmond, with an orchestra and several cast members, will perform such holiday favorites as Sleigh Ride, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Jingle Bell Rock, The Christmas Waltz, Let There be Peace on Earth, White Christmas and O, Holy Night.

“It will be a real mix of holiday songs,” Osmond said. “Everything from the big band sound to jazz. I may pull out my guitar or I may sit at the piano and have people call out a song and then I’ll sing it.

“We may even do some Broadway tunes,” said Osmond, who has appeared in such Broadway musicals as The King and I (as Anna) and The Sound of Music (as Maria) in the mid-1990s. “That is a different voice for me. The show will definitely be a walk down memory lane.” And it promises to be quite a walk. Now 47 years of age, Marie Osmond has been in show business for more than 40 years. Marie is the only daughter of George and Olive Osmond and the eighth of their nine children. When she was just 13 years old, her song Paper Roses reached Number 1 on the country music charts. She also has had hit songs with Donny, such as I’m Leaving It All Up To You and Deep Purple. Other solo hits include This Is The Way That I Feel, There’s No Stopping Your Heart, Read My Lips and I Only Wanted You.

Along with actor John Schneider, Marie Osmond is the co-founder of the Children’s Miracle Network, a non-profit organization that raises funds for children’s hospitals. She is a regular on the TV shopping network QVC where her Marie Osmond Fine Porcelain Collector Dolls are a top-selling line, and she also was a judge on the television show Celebrity Duets on FOX. Her appeal is due to the fact that she has garnered a wide range of fans over the decades. site marie osmond wedding

“My audience is diverse,” Osmond said. “Some remember Paper Roses and others remember me being on TV on The Andy Williams Show when I was 3; or they remember the Donny and Marie show. And now with Celebrity Duets, teenagers know me. I also have the Children’s Miracle Network and the people who know me as the Doll Lady on QVC.” And audience members may get to know her family. Marie Osmond has eight children: one son with her first husband (Steve Craig), two children with her second husband (Brian Blosil) and five adopted children. The younger children may, or may not, be part of The Magic of Christmas performances.

“Years ago the four older ones were in the shows that I did, but the four younger ones are not quite as disciplined,” Osmond said. “We will have to see.” But Marie Osmond is certain about one thing.

“I guarantee that audience members will feel more holiday spirit,” said Osmond of The Magic of Christmas. “People will leave the show in the Christmas spirit.” Marie Osmond’s The Magic of Christmas will be presented at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. Tickets are $55.50 and $65.50 and can be purchased at the Paramount Theatre box office, by phone at (630) 896-6666 or at any TicketMaster ticket outlet.

By Randall G. Mielke


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Jim W. Dean was an active editor on VT from 2010-2022.  He was involved in operations, development, and writing, plus an active schedule of TV and radio interviews.